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Darktremor believes...

Being a fourteen year old, I do not understand much of what you guys were discussing. But having thought about and studied a lot of these things, I too would like to comment. I'll start with this:

"The theory of evolution is indisputably correct." Here's a chapter of a book that I've read: The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel(it's the shortened version). I can't find a pdf on google so I'll have to type it. I know it's long, but it's here for anyone who wants to read it.

"'Charles Darwin didn't want to murder God, as he once put it. But he did.' -Time Magazine

If you'd asked me about Darwin when I was 14 years old, I would have agreed with Time magazine-God was dead, and Darwin's theory of evolution had killed him-at least for me.
I was sitting in biology class at Prospect High School in Mount Prospect, Illinois, when I first learned about evolution. My teacher explained that life originated millions of years ago when chemicals randomly reacted with each other in a warm ocean on the primordial earth. Then, through a process of survival of the fittest and natural selection, life forms gained in complexity. Eventually, human beings emerged from the same family tree as apes.
Although the teacher didn't address this aspect of evolution, its biggest implication was obvious to me: If evolution explains the origin and development of life, then God was out of a job! What did we need God for? Life was just the natural result of the random interaction of chemicals.

But is Darwinism true? I walked away from my formal education convinced it was. As my spiritual journey began taking me deeper into science, though, I started to have an increasingly uneasy feeling. The more I investigated the issue, the more I saw that I might have overlooked some important information. I began to question whether the conclusions of Darwinism are really justified by the hard scientific facts.
This is not, I soon discovered, a case of religion vs. science. Instead, this is an issue of science vs. science. More and more biologists, biochemists, and other researchers-not just Christians-have raised serious objections to the theory of evolution in recent years. They claim that its assumptions are sometimes based on flimsy, incomplete, or flawed data.
I had been more than happy, as a teenager, to latch on to Darwinism as an excuse to abandon the idea of God. But someone who knows me well once described me as being "a sucker for truth." My training in journalism and law compels me to dig beneath opinion and theories, all the way down until I hit the bedrock of solid facts.
In this chapter, you'll find some of the information I uncovered in my investigation. I'm not going to try to make up your mind for you. I went that route in biology class years ago, and I'm not going to blindly accept anyone else's conclusions again-or force my own conclusions on anyone either. But at the end of this chapter I'll tell you what I think as a result of my exploration of these issues; by then you may have come to some conclusions of your own.

Everyone agrees that evolution is true to some extent. Undeniably, there are variations within species of animals and plants, which explains why there are more than 200 different varieties of dogs, why cows can be bred for improved milk production, and why bacteria can adapt and develop immunity to antibiotics. This is called "micro-evolution."
But Darwin's theory goes much further than that, claiming that life began with simple, single-cell creatures and then developed through mutation (accidental changes) and natural selection (changes that helped the species survive) into the huge variety of plant and animal life now in existence. Human beings came on the scene from the same common ancestor as the ape. Scientists call this more controversial theory "macro-evolution."
Based on observations of changes within species (for example, the fact that bacteria can develop into drug-resistant forms), Darwin theorized that evolution occured across species (in other words, that over time an amoeba would evolve into a complex sea creature into a land creature, and so on). Darwin himself said that the lack of fossil evidence showing animals evolving from one species into another "is perhaps the most obvious and serious objection" to his theory, but he confidently predicted that such fossil evidence would be discovered in the future.
Fast-forward to 1979. David M. Raup, curator of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, said, "We are now about one hundred and twenty years after Darwin and the knowledge of the fossil record has been greatly expanded. We now have a quarter of a million fossil species, but the situation hasn't changed much.... We have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than we had in Darwin's time."
What the fossil evidence does show is that in rocks dated back some 575 million years, there is a sudden appearance of nearly all the animal phyla currently known, and they appear fully formed, not in various evolutionary stages.

A bigger question than how different species developed is how life itself began. Macro-evolution theorizes that single-cell organisms developed into all the life forms that we now know. But where did those single-cell organisms come from? How did life begin in the first place?
Darwin speculated that nonliving chemicals, given the right amount of time and the right environment, could develop by themselves into living matter. In Darwin's day, scientific observation was less precise than it is now, and the idea of life developing on its own seemed natural enough. People once thought that maggots developed spontaneously from rotting meat, and that view of how life developed fit with Darwin's speculation.
When Francesco Redi showed that meat developed maggots only when it was exposed to flies who could lay the eggs from which maggots hatch, the idea of life developing on its own seemed less likely. But in the 1920s the idea became popular again. And in 1953 two scientists, Stanley Miller and Harold Urey, conducted an experiment at the University of Chicago that seemed to confirm the theory of life developing from nonliving chemicals.

Miller and Urey re-created what they considered to be the atmosphere of the primitive earth (methane, ammonia, hydrogen, and water) in a laboratory and shot electricity through it to stimulate the effects of lightning.
Before long, they found that some amino acids-the building blocks of life-had been created.
This experiment created a stir within the science community. Scientists became optimistic that the questions about the origin of life would be solved within a few decades. But this has not been the case.

More recent scientific thought suggests that natural theories of life arising on its own no longer appear valid. For instance, since 1980, NASA scientists have shown that primitive earth did not have methane, ammonia, or hydrogen (the components of the Miller-Urey experiment) in any significant amounts. Without those gases, the experiment does not work.
In fact, British astrophysicist Fred Hoyle compares the likelihood of life appearing on Earth by chemical reactions as "equivalent to the possibility that a tornado sweeping through a junkyard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein," and Nobel Prize-winner Sir Francis Crick says, "The origin of life appears to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to be satisfied to get it going."
Scientists face this dead end in different ways: Some say there are natural laws and explanations yet to be discovered;others say that when no natural explanation is apparent and none is on the horizon, it's valid to at least consider supernatural explanations.

For some time, many scientists held the theory that life developed on its own by chance. But as science reveals increasing complexity in even the most primitive forms of life, this theory has lost much of its credibility.
In 1905, for example, before scientists had ways of seeing the complexity inside the membrane of cells, Ernst Haeckel described cells as "homogenous globules of plasma." In other words, blobs that are the same all the way through.
Recently one scientist very creatively-but quite accurately-described a single-cell organism as a high-tech factory, complete with artificial languages and decoding systems; central memory banks that store and retrieve impressive amounts of information; precision control systems that regulate the automatic seembly of components; proofreading and quality control mechanisms and safeguard against errors; assembly systems that use principles of refabrication and modular construction; and a complete replication system that allows the organism to duplicate itself at bewildering speeds.
The statistical odds of developing even the most basic living cell by chance are astronomical. I talked about this with origin-of-life scientist Walter Bradley, who pointed out that it takes about 100 of the right amino acids lined up in the right manner to make one protein molecule. And that's just the first step. Creating one protein molecule doesn't mean you've created life. Now you have to bring together a collection of protein molecules-maybe 200 of them-with just the right functions to get one typical living cell.
"The mathematical odds of assembling a living organism are so astronomical that nobody still believes that random chance accounts for the origin of life," Dr. Bradley told me. "Even if you optimized the conditions, it wouldn't work. If you took all the carbon in the universe and put it on the face of the earth, allowed it to chemically react at the most rapid rate possible, and left it for a billion years, the odds of creating just one functional protein molecule would be one chance in a 10 with 60 zeroes after it."
Even if amino acids could have been naturally produced, as the Miller-Urey experiment claimed, there's no explanation for how they could have become assembled into a living cell by themselves. That's the real challenge-and one that scientists have been unable to explain. No hypothesis, such as there must be some kind of natural attraction between amino acids, has stood up to scrutiny.
That's why some scientists-both Christian and non-Christian-are concluding that the orderliness and complexity of life points not to random chance but to an intelligent design in both the origin and development of life.

The obvious question-for me at least-is, Where does this intelligent design come from? Does the evidence for an intelligent design imply that there is an Intelligent Designer?
I think of it this way. Every time I've come across written communication-whether it's a painting on a cave wall or a novel from Amazon.com or the words "I love you" inscribed in the sand on the beach-there has always been someone who did the writing. Even if I can't see the couple who wrote "I love you," I don't assume that the words randomly appeared by chance by the movement of the waves. Someone of intelligence made that written communication.
And what is encoded on the DNA inside every cell of every living creature is purely and simply written information. (I'm not saying this because I'm a writer; scientists will tell you this.) We use a 26-letter alphabet in English; in DNA, there is a four-letter chemical alphabet, whose letters combine in various sequences to form all the instructions needed to guide the functioning of the cell.
Each cell in the human body contains more information than in all 30 volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. For me, that's reason enough to believe this isn't the random product of unguided nature, but it's the unmistakable sign of an Intelligent Designer.

Do you have to give up science to believe in God? Here's what James Tour, a nanoscientist on the cutting edge of molecular theory, says about that: "I stand in awe of God because of what he has done through his creation. Only a rookie who knows nothing about science would say science takes away from faith. If you really study science, it will bring you closer to God."
How ironic, I thought. Once, a limited understanding of evolutionary science had pushed me toward atheism. Now, an increasing grasp of molecular science was cementing my confidence in God.
Time magazine was wrong: Darwin didn't murder God. He just couldn't read God's writing.

Other Resources on This Topic:
If you're interested in a more detailed discussion of this topic, you'll find an extended interview with Dr. Bradley in the longer edition of this book. You may also find these books interesting:

1. Charles B. Thaxton, Walter L. Bradley, and Roger L. Olsen. The Mystery of Life'e Origin. Dallas: Lewis and Stanley, 1984.
2. Phillip E. Johnson. Darwin on Trial, 2d ed. Downers Grove, Ill.:InterVarsity Press, 1993."

There were more than two resources, but my hands are pretty tired and I doubt you will need all of them so...moving on.

"More evidence has been found for this concept than virtually any other scientific idea." More evidence? Please take a look at this, under the "HAS EVOLUTION BEEN PROVEN?" part.

"Humans are not basically evil, we are simply easily influenced. With the possible exception of sociopaths, who suffer from a mental disorder, no one wakes up in the morning and thinks "How can I do great evil today?" We simply do the best we can, but can very easily lose sight of ourselves." By your definition of evil, I would say that humans can be evil and good, depending on their genetics and environment. It is possible for someone to develop sadism. Therefore, it is also possible that some people wake up in the morning and think, "How can I do great evil today?" because they derive pleasure from maliciously and non-consentually hurting others. I actually have read about the Milgram experiment and the Stanford prison experiment, but they're about obedience to authority, not suggestibility. Humans are mostly selfish, and these experiments show that most people fear the consequences of disobeying authority more than they value their personal ethics.

"There is no such thing as altruism. All acts of good are selfishly motivated in some abstract way or another (such things as "feeling good about yourself" and "liking yourself" are inherently very rewarding. If doing good caused self-hate, no one would do it)." I'm not very sure about this one. While I do agree that humans are mostly selfish, a possible exception would be acts of good through love.

"An afterlife is an uncertainy. Life should be lived with this in consideration. Death should not, however, be feared, as if death is annihilation, we won't be aware of our state of non-existence, as we won't exist. The most plausible possibility of a true afterlife per se seems to be a form of reincarnation. This is scientifically logical, as we could simply live another life as someone else born with the same genes for a certain form of consciousness (something it seems very likely exists) that we had. We would never be aware of this, and our lives would never be connected." Disagree, because I'm Christian. I'm also curious as to why you say this is scientifically logical? You're implying that the genes someone gets from their parents has to do with people who have died. Also, if souls really do reincarnate, where will they go if the earth becomes uninhabitable for life? I think reincarnation was made up by people with false memory syndrome. I'm serious about that - there are people who do hypnosis to remember their "past life," but they get false memories.

"Marijuana is needlessly illegal. The drug is less powerful, less addictive, and has fewer side effects than alcohol and cigarettes, both of which are legal. It is also an impossible drug to overdose on." I agree with you. :) If you are interested at all, I found a website that talks about why marajuana is illegal. I didn't take the time to read it all but here it is: Why is marajuana illegal?. Just shows how useful google is. XP

"Free will is uncertain." I'm not sure what you mean by uncertain. In my opinion, as long as a person is allowed to make any decision (even if there is only one possible decision that the person will chose), it is free will.

"Religions exist solely as social engineering that exploits the infuriating unknowability of our universe, that most humans are unable to reconcile (it provdes a quick, easy answer to impossible question). It's a very complex and powerful way to tell people what to do." Some religions are probably like that, but I seek the truth.

"Genetics and environment are entirely responsible for who we are. If a soul exists, it exists as a passive observer." Agreed.

8/6/2007 View